MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — The construction continues, but the faculty and staff of the Washington State University Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center are already transitioning in to their new facilities.
WSU project manager Virgil Hanson says 95 percent of phase one construction in the $8 million revitalization of the NWREC is complete. The faculty and staff are shifting operations in to the offices and labs of the new Agricultural Research and Technology Building, the centerpiece of the makeover. The 19,000 square foot facility will house administrative offices, research laboratory facilities, storage and an auditorium.
The first phase of construction also includes the construction of a new 3,200 square foot research greenhouse that is well underway.
The second phase of construction is starting. It includes demolition of old facilities and construction of a new parking area, installation of perimeter fencing and landscaping. The construction is slated for completion in late November.
The new facilities will provide modern, efficient workspace for the agricultural and horticultural research and extension center serving the five-county region, replacing the old, outmoded and overcrowded facilities.
Approximately $1.5 million of the total $8 million budget to build and equip the new facilities is coming in contributions from individuals, businesses and public entities in northwestern Washington.
According to Sue Christianson, chair of the fund-raising committee comprised of local citizens and WSU representatives, the local agricultural community is stepping up to support the facility including many long time local farm families.
Recent contributions include:
- $50,000 from the families of Darrin and Keith Morrison, a fourth generation Skagit Valley farm family.
- $50,000 from the Knutzen family, a fifth generation farm family, to name the conference room in honor of Jess and Barbara Knutzen who founded Knutzen Farms in the Skagit Valley in 1894.
- $100,000 collectively from members of the Christianson family, a third generation agricultural family, to name the weed science and water resources laboratory in honor of the Alfred and Lucille Christianson family.
- $10,000 from Bellingham Cold Storage. BCS president Doug Thomas’s father was former owner of Agri-Chem, a chemical and fertilizer company in Burlington.
- $25,000 from Mike Fohn to name the Maureen and Mike Fohn Greenhouse Bay.
- $100,000 from Richard and Pat Smith to name the vegetable/fruit horticulture laboratory in honor of Robert MacDonald.
- $50,000 from Skagit Farmers Supply, founded in 1934, to name the demonstration kitchen.
- $30,000 from the Northwest Farm Credit Services.
- $7,000 from Dick and Marlys Bedlington of Bedlington Farms and Pure Potato in Lynden.
- $10,000 from Wilbur-Ellis Company, international marketer and distributor of agricultural and industrial products.
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